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The Trabant - actually a mostly metal pig!


Bien Pensant

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Bien Pensant

‘Trabant’ is actually Latin for fellow or companion and, funnily enough, there’s an old Latin saying:

Comes facetus est tanquam vehiculus in via - On the road, a merry companion is as good as a wagon.

Which is fortunate because a Trabant certainly isn’t!

However, I was surprised to learn that the Trabant isn’t really made of (wool/cotton-reinforced) plastic at all. Instead, it has a steel monocoque, with about three times as many welds as contemporary Western cars, with plastic panels hung off it. I was expecting some sort of ladder chassis with a plastic body bolted on.

Why didn’t they just finish it in metal?

More detail here.

P.S. There are some odd bits in the translation “band” is, obviously, ‘conveyor’ and the German word for ‘safety’ (sicherheit) is the same as that for ‘security’ hence the strange subtitle which talks about “Work security”, when the two guys are pushing and pulling body panels through an unguarded band-saw, actually means ‘work safety’.

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Mirror Mirror
On 25/06/2022 at 02:34, Bien Pensant said:

‘Trabant’ is actually Latin for fellow or companion and, funnily enough, there’s an old Latin saying:

Comes facetus est tanquam vehiculus in via - On the road, a merry companion is as good as a wagon.

Which is fortunate because a Trabant certainly isn’t!

However, I was surprised to learn that the Trabant isn’t really made of (wool/cotton-reinforced) plastic at all. Instead, it has a steel monocoque, with about three times as many welds as contemporary Western cars, with plastic panels hung off it. I was expecting some sort of ladder chassis with a plastic body bolted on.

Why didn’t they just finish it in metal?

More detail here.

P.S. There are some odd bits in the translation “band” is, obviously, ‘conveyor’ and the German word for ‘safety’ (sicherheit) is the same as that for ‘security’ hence the strange subtitle which talks about “Work security”, when the two guys are pushing and pulling body panels through an unguarded band-saw, actually means ‘work safety’.

Fascinating. They said early on, that steel sheet was in short supply, hence the wool /resin parts. Interestingly, I didn’t see anything about corrosion protection on the steel parts; perhaps I missed it or there was none?

I suspect you might have seen similar production methods at the Reliant factory in the 70s, possibly with a bit more attention to H&S. Imagine what sort of health those guys working in the spray shops would have ‘enjoyed’ in their later years…

 

Thanks for posting!

Edited by Mirror Mirror
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Bien Pensant
13 hours ago, Mirror Mirror said:

I didn’t see anything about corrosion protection on the steel parts; perhaps I missed it or there was none?

Apparently:

"The Trabi had a galvanized steel chassis (dipped in bitumen for rust protection)"

In fairness to the Eastern Block, they built shit but, for better or worse xD, they did build it to last.

They are actually used for racing and my first thought was that, with such a shell, they must actually be pretty light and nimble which is confirmed at the link above.

Amazingly, there was actually quite a lively racing scene in the DDR. I watched this documentary ages ago (when I was trying to learn German by watching F1 on RTL) but the one below, about "The Colin Chapman of the Eastern Block" (and part-time driving instructor), looks more interesting. Sadly no English subtitles but I might try to knock some up some time, just to stop my German from seizing up completely:

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